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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Megalodon (2002)

"Sixty feet of prehistoric terror"

Plot

A news reporter arrives on a the largest drilling platform ever constructed in the North Atlantic off the coast of Greenland to document the safety of it for a broadcast. During one of the first drilling incursions where the crew drill further than anyone has ever done before, a large fissure is ruptured which reveals a secondary ocean beneath our own. This new ocean is teaming with unique kinds of life, not least a gigantic 60ft pre-historic shark known as the Megalodon.

 

It's hard to imagine that back in 2002 and long before Jason Statham made giant prehistoric sharks cool, the only chance you'd have of seeing a megalodon on film was with a pair of dreadful low budget straight-to-video shark flicks. Whereas Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is arguably the more famous of the two, due to some awful effects and one of the single most embarrassing lines of dialogue ever put to film, it's this clunker Megalodon which really shows off just how limited the idea is. And if studio execs had only had this evidence to go on, you'd have never got The Meg and its corresponding sequel. Megalodon drowned on arrival so The Meg could swim, or something along those lines.


Megalodon is sub-standard horror-thriller which promises much with an exciting cover box but at no point do you expect the film to have the budget to pull off what it sets out to do. Instead of smashing boats to pieces and taking apart jetties and piers for instance, the shark here is just content with swimming around the oil platform in the Arctic for most of the film. I want to see the giant shark being placed in ordinary situations (i.e. swimming near beaches, taking out ships, etc.) where our usual preconceptions of a killer shark film could be expanded. I want to see the shark in situations that we have experienced ourselves. Think of how much damage a giant shark could do if it were attacking swimmers off a beach resort - it could simply gulp people down in one go. I do not want it stuck somewhere totally unrealistic and never venturing further afield just for the sake of the film. No one is going to find themselves swimming the Arctic!


Megalodon commits the cardinal sin of filmmaking which is that it's boring. It takes long enough for the shark to appear (a good forty-fifty minutes out of the seventy-five I'd say) and even when it does appear, there's not really a build-up of suspense or anything to deem it a threat. It just kind of appears on the sonar and then doesn't do an awful lot for the remaining time except smash a few of the mini-submarines. It's hardly pant-wetting material and it's a tragic waste of a 60ft shark! Megalodon is not the only recent shark film to feature people in submarines being attacked. Where is the fun in that? It's like feeding the shark sardines without opening the tin! Keeping the cast hidden away in the underwater enclosure seems like a total cop-out and greatly reduces the fear factor - there's no sudden threat of being pulled under, which is kind of the whole reason why people are scared of sharks in the first place.



It seems like someone was having fun on their computer when this was in post production as practically everything is CGI or enhanced with it and rather unconvincing at that. It's just saturated from beginning to end. Think of the way in George Lucas turned his second Star Wars trilogy into CGI fests where the only real things were the actors (and even some of the characters were completely animated). It's cheaper than building sets but my eyes can only take so much low grade CGI before I go crazy. The establishing shots of the oil rig in the snow look far too cartoony and the least said about the shark, the better.


As I've said, the only real things on display are the actors and at least they're acceptable enough to not warrant a barrage of criticism from me. Robin Sachs is pretty laid back as the businessman who owns the oil rig and Al Sapienza adds a bit of colour to his ‘experienced veteran’ role. Most of the other characters are hit and miss but with these two guys pulling the strings, at least the human side isn't as bad as it should have been given that almost everything else sucks. Megalodon relies on its characters to try and see it through, especially given the lack of shark action, and it mostly works - well for a straight-to-video film it mostly works.

 

Final Verdict

I did wish when I first saw this back in the 00s that someday there would be a big budget megalodon film where a giant pre-historic shark actually interacts with humans in real situations and has some cash spent on it properly. We eventually got that with The Meg, but in its wake was a shoal of toothless and childish monsters such as Megalodon, instead of the fearsome, unstoppable monsters that they deserve to be.



 

Megalodon


Director(s): Pat Corbitt


Writer(s): Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Stanley Isaacs


Actor(s): Leighanne Littrell, Robin Sachs, Al Sapienza, Mark Sheppard, Jennifer Sommerfeld, Evan Mirand, Steve Scionti, Fred Belford


Duration: 90 mins




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